DENVER -- Entering play on Tuesday, the Thunder's early season résumé was loaded with impressive bullet points:
*12-0 at home
*Blowout wins over the Pacers and Clippers
*Relatively easy victories over the Spurs and Mavericks
But more than a quarter of the way through the season, 23 games in, an obvious hole still remained. OKC was yet to produce a truly solid road win.
That is, until Tuesday night in Denver, when the Thunder got up on the Nuggets early, controlled throughout and separated late for an impressive 105-93 victory
“It's not an easy place to win,” Scott Brooks said. “They're a very good team, one of the top teams in basketball and they're playing good basketball.”
Although it's still relatively early in the season, the Nuggets have won 10 of their past 14 and seem playoff bound. But they're not considered title contenders. So this isn't as impressive as, say, a win on Saturday in San Antonio would be.
But including Tuesday's loss, the Nuggets are 45-7 in Denver the past two seasons, including a 2-0 mark against the 60-win Thunder a year ago.
And the previous seven teams OKC beat on the road this season entered Tuesday with a combined record of 64-105.
So this would qualify as the stiffest road test the Thunder has passed.
“We came in and beat a good team that plays well at home,” Kevin Durant said, refusing to categorize it as their best. “Any win on the road is tough and we'll take it.”
But regardless of where it's slotted, it was completed with the same formula that has turned OKC into the hottest team in basketball the past few weeks.
Winners of 15 of its past 16, the Thunder once again relied on steady defense (Denver shot 41 percent), contributions from everywhere (four bench players had at least six points) and its typical star play.
Serge Ibaka started it off on Tuesday night, scoring OKC's first 11 points and 13 of his 17 in the first quarter.
And once he cooled off, Kevin Durant heated up, going 9-of-16 for 23 of his 30 points after the opening quarter. It was his league-leading 12th 30-point game of the season.
And then, of course, there was Russell Westbrook, the Thunder's high-energy, do-everything point guard who controlled the game from end-to-end with his aggression and relentlessness.
Westbrook finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, narrowly missing another triple-double. In his past six games, he's averaging 21.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 9.8 assists.
“He's just a freak athlete,” Durant said of Westbrook, who entered the night leading NBA point guards by a wide margin at 5.4 rebounds per game. “He's 6-3, big, strong. He's a great rebounder for his position. It does a lot for us because he get off the boards, push the break and get everybody easy baskets.”
Easy baskets and an easy and impressive win on the road. The Thunder's best this season.